There weren’t a lot of changes in Thursday’s update to the U.S. Drought Monitor Map, with the most notable ones being the growth of “moderate drought” conditions in South Dakota. Now, most of that state, North Dakota and Nebraska are under either moderate or severe drought, with parts of Nebraska experiencing extreme drought. Much of the western half of the country remains under severe, extreme or exceptional drought conditions. The growth in the drought in South Dakota has ag and climate officials there now starting to expect a challenging start for crops and plants ranging from grasses and row crops to gardens and trees. A continued La Niña system in the Pacific Ocean and weak Arctic Oscillation are major contributors to the continued drought in the lower 48 states, one weather official said Thursday. See more.